|Yankees rookie Duncan off to smashing start|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 22 July 2007 15:01|
And then he'll just sit down.
It hasn't happened yet, though. Each of the three homers hit since his big league debut on Friday has been followed by a curtain call.
``It's a crazy experience,'' said the 27-year-old rookie. ``You kind of get frozen in the moment.''
His dad and brother thought it was pretty neat, too. They watched it from the visitor's clubhouse in Atlanta. Dave Duncan is the Cardinals' pitching coach. His son, Shelley's brother Chris, plays for St. Louis.
``He's really good,'' said Chris, who is about two years younger. ``He's always been really good. He just needed an opportunity.''
Duncan, who actually shares his father's first name but goes by his middle name, was taken in the second round of the 2001 draft after playing college ball at Arizona. He rattled around the Yankees' system for six years until he was called up on Friday.
``This is more than you expect but I think Shelley put in his time and he's done his work. I expected he would go up there and be able to compete,'' Dave Duncan said. ``He's having a lot of success right now. He's developed enough that he should be able to compete on a daily basis.'' Among the position players who made it to the majors sooner are Philadelphia slugger Ryan Howard and Jonny Gomes of the Devil Rays, both taken after Duncan, as well as first overall pick Joe Mauer of Minnesota and first-rounder Mark Teixeira of Texas.
While some of his contemporaries excelled, Duncan kept plugging away in the bushes. He was leading the Triple-A International League in slugging at .577 and had 25 homers for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre when he was called up.
On Saturday, in the opener of a day-night doubleheader, Duncan hit his first major league homer to cap a five-run sixth inning during a 7-3 win. He came back to the bench, leaving a trail of bruises in his wake before he was summoned from the dugout by the fans.
``I tried to warn the guys last night when he got here that if he scored to be careful, and lo and behold I'm the first one that he tried to take out,'' said Phillips, who played with Duncan in Scranton.
Sunday, he capped off another big inning for the Yankees. After six runs scored on singles and a seventh on a throwing error, Duncan hit a three-run homer that gave the Yankees a 13-3 lead and got him cheered out of the dugout yet again.
After Duncan hit a solo shot leading off the sixth, catcher Jorge Posada was savvy enough to offer only his palms for a double high-five, and Yankees fans were geeked enough to make him tip his batting helmet one more time.
``It's great to see this kid who's been working five or six years in the minor leagues,'' manager Joe Torre said. ``He certainly has caught everyone's attention.''
Torre was impressed that Duncan, with the exception of his first at-bat, has gone to the plate with a clear plan of attack: to find a pitch he can hit.
It's paid off so far. Of course, three home runs against the woeful Devil Rays won't mean much if he can't maintain some measure of success as a part-time player and pinch-hitter.
``In the game of baseball, the ups and downs are huge,'' Duncan said. ``You can go down so quickly.''
AP Freelance Writer Amy Jinkner-Lloyd contributed to this report from Atlanta.